Hoka Tecton X Review
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Hoka Tecton X
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$134.96 at Backcountry
|$125 List||$97.96 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Super comfortable, responsive, ultralight||Unbeatable fit, fantastic underfoot protection, doesn’t absorb much water, very stable||Ultralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agile||Unparalleled comfort, unrivaled traction, ample foot protection||Affordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option|
|Cons||Lacking traction, limited proprioception, durability concerns||Expensive, hard to get on foot, must wear above the ankle height socks, hard to stuff laces into garage||Loose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feeling||Aggressive heel-to-toe drop, lack of stability||Soft upper is unstable, lacks energy, inconsistent traction|
|Bottom Line||An inventive carbon-fiber layup and an ultralight platform produce a stable, responsive shoe designed for long, non-technical runs||The cream of the crop for trail running shoes delivers fine-tuned long run performance||An ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever tested||A legendary shoe that gets better by the year with minor tweaks to improve the performance of this specialty off-trail runner||A comfortable, consistent, and approachable shoe for those looking to crossover from roads to trail running|
|Rating Categories||Hoka Tecton X||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Speedcross 6||Brooks Divide 2|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Hoka Tecton X||Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Speedcross 6||Brooks Divide 2|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||18.1 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)||18.3 oz (size 9.5)||21.4 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||32 mm, 27 mm||26 mm, 18 mm||23 mm, 18 mm||32 mm, 22 mm||25 mm, 17 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||5 mm||8 mm||5 mm||10 mm||8 mm|
|Lug Depth||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm||3 mm|
|Upper||Engineered Jacquard mesh||Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner||Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU||Synthetic mesh, Ripstop, TPU||Mesh, TPU|
|Midsole||HOKA ProFlyX EVA foam, carbon fiber plates||Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection||HOKA ProFly: dual-density foam||Salomon EnergyCell+ EVA||Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam|
|Outsole||Vibram Megagrip with LITEBASE||Salomon Contagrip MA||Rubber||Salomon Mud Contagrip||Brooks TrailTack|
|Lacing Style||Traditional||Quicklace with garage||Traditional||Quicklace||Traditional|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Sizes Available||7 - 14 US||4 - 13 US||7 - 15 US||7 - 14 US||7 - 15 US|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The HOKA Tecton X pushes the boundaries of trail running shoe technology by incorporating parallel carbon fiber plates into the midsole layup. Instead of a full carbon fiber shank, HOKA designers opt for two narrow carbon fiber plates. These plates are sandwiched between their ProFlyX EVA midsole, a proprietary design that couples two individual foam bases. The remaining construction of this ultralight, 9-ounce shoe is all about minimalism. A Vibram Megragrip outsole uses their Litebase technology to separate the outsole grip into two individual sections covering just the heel and forefoot.
Although this shoe boasts a stack height of 32mm in the heel that drops only slightly to 27mm in the forefoot, you don't feel like you're standing on a pillow. The difference between the Tecton X and other ultra-cushy ultrarunners is in the midsole construction. The dual-layer ProFlyX midsole design is slightly stiffer than the single-layer ProFly foam used in other popular HOKA shoes. Couple that with the dual carbon fiber plates that run along either edge of this shoe, and the result is a firm ride that offers as much responsiveness as protection. The design also includes a stiff rubber toe cap that provides protection and structure to the otherwise ultralight, Jacquard-knit upper.
Looking at the profile of the Tecton X, you will likely notice that this shoe has two distinct midsoles, with carbon fiber plates sandwiched in between. Another eye-catching feature of this inventive design is the lacking outsole — or at least, the lack of a traditional outsole. By utilizing Vibram's Litebase technology, designers can split the outsole, exposing the bottom midsole directly underfoot. The midsole stack is fat enough that you won't notice any terrain features poking through. However, we worry about this design's long-term durability, especially for those who regularly run in rocky terrain.
While the Vibram Litebase technology certainly shaves weight from the Tecton X, that weight savings comes at the cost of traction. When you flex into a shoe to grip on uphills or go to throw on the brakes on downhills, you engage the outsole in the toes or just in front of your heel, respectively. But when you are cruising long miles of hardpack doubletrack — a specialty of the Tecton X — you tend to move more around the ball of your foot. It seems trivial, but cutting out a section of the outsole that extends from just behind the ball of your foot to just in front of your heel reduces your ability to grip through this part of your foot. This is especially true of midfoot strikers, who already have to scramble to find grip through the short 4mm lugs. You won't slip and fall on your face, but don't expect the minimal Megragrip outsole to help with propulsion.
As you may have already guessed, the Tecton X is not designed to be an agile alpine runner. The wide platform of the forefoot, thick midsole, and the added stiffness of the carbon fiber plates make this shoe a dream for running long miles over mellow, rolling hardpack. But it does not offer the agility, proprioception, or flexibility for nimble foot placements in technical terrain. The neutral stance and minimal drop of the Tecton X put you in a more natural alignment with the ground. However, few other shoes we have tested have as fat of a stack, or as stiff of a midsole, as the Tecton X.
Although the last isn't nearly as wide as other similar shoes we have tested, the platform of the Tecton X is much wider. The midsole flairs away from the upper, providing an ample base that feels like it was designed specifically for long-distance runs over simple terrain. Unlike other carbon shoes that incorporate a full shank, the parallel carbon plates don't influence your stride with any prescriptive midsole geometry. The result is a neutral shoe that is very wide, very damp, and very supportive. While all of this holds true over flat ground, unfortunately, this sense of stability does not translate well to off-camber trails. Like other carbon shoes we've tested, the midsole is too stiff and powerful for the ultralight upper. This causes your foot to bounce around in uneven terrain, which is particularly noticeable (and uncomfortable) when side-hilling.
Fortunately, side-hilling was the only time we were uncomfortable in the Tecton X. Aside from those particular situations, this is an outrageously comfortable shoe. The last and sock liner provide a comfortable wrap through the midfoot, which widens out in the toe box to accommodate the normal foot swelling that occurs when running long distances. HOKA's proprietary ProFlyX midsole design merges two different EVA foams: one that is stiff and responsive; the other that is ultra-plush. Factor in the added torsional stability of the dual carbon fiber plates, and the result is a shoe that can help you push through your longest days.
Perhaps the most incredible thing about the Tecton X is that you receive the benefit of this technology without any of the added weight. Compared to their other trail offerings, the HOKA design team somehow managed to add all of this material while cutting weight. Tipping the scales at an impressive 18.1 ounces for a pair of men's 9.5 US, the Tecton X is easily one of the lightest shoes in our lineup.
Should You Buy the HOKA Tecton X?
The short answer is: it depends. This inventive shoe carries a price tag commensurate with the technology and design hours it took to produce such a ground-breaking trail runner. If your running style favors long days over forest roads, this is the perfect shoe for you — and it may be able to help push your PR if racing. But if you enjoy running rough, technical, alpine trails, we highly suggest looking elsewhere.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
We tested this shoe alongside the Saucony Endorphin Edge, another innovative carbon-fiber shoe worthy of comparison, even though it did not score as highly as the Tecton X. Long-distance runners or long-standing fans of HOKA shoes should consider the Torrent 2, a more versatile shoe that is likely to open up more terrain options.
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